Steelers ‘Express Interest’ in Trading For Projected $65 Million CB: Report

Mike Tomlin L'Jarius Sneed

Getty Steelers Now's Nick Farabaugh reported on March 2 that head coach Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers have expressed interest in trading for cornerback L'Jarius Sneed.

The Kansas City Chiefs placed the franchise tag on cornerback L’Jarius Sneed on February 28 according to Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz. But that doesn’t mean Sneed isn’t still available for a team such as the Pittsburgh Steelers.

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported on February 27 that the Chiefs plan to trade Sneed on the franchise tag if they can’t come to a long-term contract agreement with the cornerback. On March 2, Steelers Now’s Nick Farabaugh reported that the Steelers “have expressed interest” in acquiring the Chiefs cornerback if he’s made available.

“Sneed’s franchise tag contract will be a one-year deal for $19.8 million, but he is seeking a long-term contract,” Farabaugh wrote. “The Steelers would be able to negotiate an extension with Sneed after trading for him, or he could play under the tag in 2024 and become a free agent in 2025.

“Pittsburgh expressed interest in Chicago Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson at the trade deadline. So, acquiring a talented cornerback is something that they have explored as recently as the middle of the season.”

He has never made the All-Pro team or Pro Bowl. But Sneed is one of the fastest rising cornerbacks in the NFL.

He served as the Chiefs top cornerback the past two seasons when the team won back-to-back Super Bowls. During 2023, he posted 78 combined tackles, including 5 tackles for loss with 14 pass defenses and 2 interceptions.

Spotrac projected Sneed to be worth roughly $65.3 million on a 4-year contract this offseason. Such a contract would pay Sneed $16.3 million on an average annual basis.

Why the Steelers Could Pursue a Trade for L’Jarius Sneed

The Steelers being interested in Sneed isn’t shocking. NFL pundits such as Pro Football Focus analysts have linked Pittsburgh to the 27-year-old cornerback this offseason because he would be an obvious upgrade.

“Sneed could stand to cut down on penalties, but his aggressive nature would be welcome on many teams, and his inside-outside versatility is a nice benefit, as well,” the PFF staff wrote.

Sneed registered a PFF player grade of 72 or better (out of 100) each of the last two seasons. Among 75 cornerbacks who played half of his team’s defensive snaps during 2023, PFF ranked Sneed 25th.

The Steelers could pair Sneed next to 2023 second-round pick Joey Porter Jr. to make up a formidable starting cornerback duo. That could allow the team to move veteran Patrick Peterson into a slot cornerback role.

Fellow Steelers cornerbacks Levi Wallace, James Pierre, Chandon Sullivan and Elijah Riley are all pending free agents.

The Steelers Acquiring Sneed is Still a Long Shot

It’s not surprising the Steelers are conducting their due diligence on Sneed. But that doesn’t mean they are close to acquiring him.

While Sneed could be traded, that will only happen if the Chiefs can’t sign Sneed to a long-term deal. Multiple sources have reported the asking price for Sneed will be at least a second-round pick.

It’s unclear if the Steelers are willing to depart with their No. 51 overall selection during the second round of 2024.

Money is also a potential obstacle in the Steelers acquiring Sneed. Trading for Sneed is at least a $19.8 million commitment for the 2024 season.

“A tag amount on Sneed would be $19.802 million and any team trading for him would need to accommodate that tag amount under cap upon deal being done before extension,” Steelers Depot’s official X (formerly Twitter) account wrote. “I know yinz hate details, but themz the details.”

That makes Sneed very much a long shot for the Steelers.

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